06 March 2024

Running in recovery: Ronnie's new lease of life

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The possibilities are endless. You need to believe in yourself, and I’ll give you a hand.

Ronnie, 53, Staff, Glasgow

Ronnie's story

Ronnie has worked at WithYou since 2020 as a Recovery Worker. 

In April 2023, Ronnie took part in the London Marathon - completing the challenge in just 3 hours and 33 minutes, raising more than £500 for WithYou. This was a great achievement for Ronnie, who stopped using drugs in 2015 after more than 30 years.

Listen to Ronnie's share his story in collaboration with Smiley Movement, a platform helping third sector organisations to amplify their stories and create positive change.



Where did it all start?

"I experienced a lot of trauma in my early childhood. By the time I turned 12, I found myself using solvents, and it eventually escalated to IV heroin, cocaine, and Benzos. I was self-medicating because I couldn’t communicate with people.

“It was manageable for a few years, but then it got out of hand. Working in a warehouse, I was taking up to 90 Valium a day, injecting, overdosing in the toilet, and passing out for hours. Every penny I had went on drugs. When I stopped working, I lived out of food banks, sleeping on a couch, only getting off to go and score.

“I was offending and drug dealing to fund my habit. The majority of the flats in my close were occupied by heroin users and drug dealers. I was lucky not to be in jail, lucky to still have all my limbs, lucky still to be alive."

How did you get into running?

“When I got into recovery, I discovered running. It was time for me to start repairing my body, so I went out for my first run. It wasn’t easy. After half an hour, I’d run half a mile and was sick, but I persevered. I ran my first 10k at 10 weeks drug-free, and I got a good time!"

What is life like now?

“I am now 8 and a half years drug-free. I wanted to stop using long before I did. I thought I’d hit rock bottom. If I hadn’t stopped using, there’s no doubt, I would be dead. I would be sitting with limbs amputated, lost the ability to walk, ultimately I wouldn’t be here." 

Ronnie, what’s your message to others who may be experiencing challenges?

“The possibilities are endless with recovery. You need to believe in yourself, and I’ll give you a hand. My experience gives me compassion. I’ve walked in these guys’ shoes. Clients often say, ‘I’d rather talk to you because you’ve been there’. 

“For anybody who is struggling, I suppose the first step is to just talk to somebody. Be honest about how you’re feeling.”

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